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Author Topic: How to design a place for massive joint work on creating standards/legislations?  (Read 2857 times)

Offline Jarek Duda

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There are situations when huge amount of people have to jointly work on extremely important documents. For example HTML standards, where a few large players like web browser producers discuss between each other and potentially millions of web designers around the world ... or thousands of politicians/lobbyist while working on compromises of legislations on scale of e.g. USA/EU/world ... or maybe all of us to finally transit toward more direct and transparent democracy ...

How such looking impossible tasks are conducted? Do they use some kind of e.g. TortoiseSVN? Are they transparent enough for interested sides?
I don’t even want to imagine how it is made in politics, but for standards there are for example mailing lists, so to e.g. get to information you are interested in or would like to comment on, you would rather have to dig through huge list of multi-plot comments …

Let us think about designing and maybe creating an open source tool for such serious discussions of potentially huge amount of people ... which then could be applied for different purposes of optimized and transparent work on important documents.
How would a perfect situation look like?
I imagine that from the page of the document we/they work on, I can click on paragraph/sentence to get to a page describing multiple related issues, summarized discussions which lead to its current form, links to these discussions I could participate in, proceeding votes between alternatives …
So e.g. looking at the legislation, everyone could trace each sentence (e.g. to a lobbyist) and understand its evolution to the current form - thanks of this better understanding, interpretations could be closer to the expected result and generally people could better identify with e.g. the law.

So how to design such a place?
Here is a brief description how I would imagine it.
First of all there shouldn't be anonymity there – for really serious discussions, the best would be if every action is digitally signed and this information and generally the whole history is available for all users. So statements there have legal status similar to signed article published by a journalist – think a few times before writing something there. All information about mechanisms used by this tool should be easily accessible (and also discussed and eventually modified). Digital signatures are usually equivalent to the real ones, so by the way this place could be used also e.g. for direct democracy.
Secondly, statements should be relatively compact and rather focusing on a single issue – they should have one main link to what they refer to (and eventually additional links) – the discussion generally is a tree (with eventual less important transverse links), like on reddit but a bit more complicated.

Thirdly, there is required well thought marking system – much more complicated than of reddit. To prevent pathologies, each mark should be signed and well justified … and marks also can be judged and so on.
There would be rather required many different categories of marks - to not just give plus/minus, but also specify and well justify what for. Their direct purpose is to be able to freely customize the order of the list/subtree of related topics to display – from standard chronological through by some category of marks, up to different mixed custom criteria. Another purpose is using these marks in discussions or e.g. to nominate persons with high marks to take care of sites of given issue (his actions would be still fully traceable and evaluated).
There is required some limit of points – for example 1/category/day and can accumulate up to 10/category. They can be spent (with justification) for pluses/minuses in selected categories (e.g. +1 patriotism, -1 realism). The weight of point depends e.g. on total marks of the author in this category. The "/category" is to motivate to look from perspectives of different values on others statements and so on one's own.
Marks of marks influence their weight and generally the weights of marks of the author - there would be required some kind of page-rank to calculate final weights.
Example of list of categories of marks (to discuss):
- Morality / empathy (as external evaluation of situation)
- Altruism/hard work (as own work/sacrifice, minus for selfishness, lazy distributing points)
- Justice/objectiveness (e.g. unjustified marks, lack of objectivity)
- Realism (awareness of the broader situation)
- Patriotism (good for the nation)
- Originality / innovativeness (minus for obviousness, plus for interesting idea)
- Compactness (plus for good essence/form proportion, minus for leading nowhere comments)
- ... ?
Some may have subcategories - like realism in politics, economics, physics ...
More controversial examples:
- Coherence / consistency / transparency - minus for lies, frequent change of opinion (have to be distinguished from the legitimate evolution), plus for mature defense of an idea, the internal consistency, honesty in a difficult situations,
- Openness / flexibility - minus for not adapting to changing realities, ignoring strong arguments, blind fanaticism ... plus for openness to different views, evolution of own thinking.

Besides statements, there would be:
- Profiles of persons/institutions/organizations/companies (with part edited by this subject and part everyone can discuss),
- voting sites - secret (e.g. for final vote) or open (e.g. while choosing between alternatives),
- sites for working on given petition, bill, referendum requests – with links to sites focusing on single sentences, planed deadline to stop working and start gathering signatures,
- wiki-like pages on different subjects and specific topics for discussion, briefly introducing to the problem and results of discussions – with statistics and lots of links.

Another important issue is changeability. I think people could change judges/marks. The main link of statements should be unchangeable, but additional links can be added/updated. Someone could comment on (a part of) the text, so there should be rather possible only adding succeeding updates.

How would you imagine constructing a tool to improve working on important documents?
A tool for serious discussions of potentially huge amount of sometimes extremely interested people?
To increase their level by its construction?
One of many applications could be some National Discussion Forum improving the work on legislations – by making it more transparent and easier for people to express their perspective on concerning them created law.
So finally - what do you think of giving citizens possibility to really take part in (transparent) work/discussion on new legislations?


 

Offline CliffordK

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Discussion forums are great.  However, if one needs "standards", it is usually an organization that consolidates the ideas and creates the standards.

I do think more effort should be put into "open source" standards.  For example the US National Electric Code is LAW in many places, yet is a copyrighted document with limited access.

One can discuss a language such as JAVA all one wants.  However, the official language and compilers are written and maintained by one company, Sun Microsystems.  Other languages may be open source, but that means that any new feature has to be programmed in by every company writing compilers.  Or, one ends up with each company choosing to implement a subset of the full language.  Hopefully with results that are close enough that they are compatible with each other.
 

Offline Jarek Duda

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So imagine how they choose e.g. HTML standards - it's discussion between Google, Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla, Opera and thousands/millions of interested sides ... or legislations, especially international ... or maybe we could make local legislation process transparent for citizens and allow them to somehow participate in discussions - these are extremely tough and serious discussions between often competing sides.

My point is that a general tool to help improving these discussions would be very useful - mainly by by systematizing, organizing them, making more transparent (resistant to corruption)...
There are such platforms (version controls) like TortoiseSVN for working on software, but working on document is very different, like Wikipedia but much more serious - it should be relatively compact and there can be tough discussions about its each paragraph/sentence/word ... so this place would work rather as a discussion forum, but very special one - only serious, related and signed statements, organized as well as possible, by the way supporting eVoting between alternatives ...

ps. Here is such trial of redditors to work on Free Internet Act - to prevent SOPA/ACTA etc.
« Last Edit: 06/02/2013 10:10:20 by Jarek Duda »
 

Offline nicephotog

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Quote
the official language and compilers are written and maintained by one company, Sun Microsystems
Actually "Oracle" now, and the standards for Java specifications for compiler and JVM are maintained by them but can have non standard variants that are company generic such as IBM Java or BEA Java.
Java maths specs IEEE, charsets are ISO specs.

Before internet, SGML existed and was then harnessed to produce HTML(subset of SGML schemas and tags) for common document presentation across any language after internet started.

If you wish to find document specifications world wide , i don't appear to have found the logo of it all in computing and documentation of
http://www.w3c.org
inclusive are language mapping and semantics such as UML and OWL, CORBA and IDL e.t.c.

note:
Quote
- Patriotism (good for the nation)
Secret policing and maybe corrupt policing to want know that, a little unethical and unsafe to collect that.
 

Offline grizelda

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Here is a brief description how I would imagine it.
First of all there shouldn't be anonymity there – for really serious discussions, the best would be if every action is digitally signed and this information and generally the whole history is available for all users. So statements there have legal status similar to signed article published by a journalist – think a few times before writing something there. All information about mechanisms used by this tool should be easily accessible (and also discussed and eventually modified). Digital signatures are usually equivalent to the real ones, so by the way this place could be used also e.g. for direct democracy.


If it's mandatory to provide the author's identity to your access of their page, your identity should be mandatorily added to identify that you have accessed their page or else you can't access it.
 

Offline evan_au

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In some standards work I've been involved in (and, I've heard, on Wikipedia), it's good to have input from many people, but producing a coherent, readable and consistent document at the end depends on one or a very few hard-working editors who look over all the comments and integrate them, smoothing over clashes of style and terminology, are able to approach individuals to get the best out of them, and highlight remaining issues to be resolved.

A major problem in collaborations like this is with individuals and organisations who participate, but with the intent of ensuring it goes nowhere, or it generates an unusable mess that will be ignored. All large activities attract such participants, and identifying, redirecting or excluding detractors is an unsolved problem.
 

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